Jokic powers Nuggets to opening NBA Finals win
Denver Nuggets eased to a 104-93 victory over a disappointing Miami Heat in the first game of the 2023 NBA Finals.
Nikola Jokic was the standout player as the Nuggets centre picked up a triple-double – double figures in points, assists and rebounds.
Denver never looked like losing in front of their home crowd in their first finals game for 47 years.
It puts them 1-0 ahead of Heat in the best-of-seven series. Game Two is on Sunday from 20:00h.
Jokic rose to the occasion, finishing with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, as Heat had no answer to the 28-year-old Serb.
“Right now, the most important thing is to win a game, and I’m trying to win a game in any possible way,” Jokic told ABC.
“I don’t need to shoot and I know I don’t need to score to affect the game, and I think I did a good job today. Everybody contributed.”
Jokic was assisted by Jamal Murray with 26 points, while Aaron Gordon added 16 and Michael Porter Jr 14.
“I think that’s the beauty of Nikola,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I learned a long time ago the defence tells you what to do, and Nikola never forces it.
“One thing about Nikola is he takes great satisfaction in making plays for others. He really does. I think he takes more joy in that.
“I don’t think he cares if he scored 27 points or not. He cares that we’re up 1-0.”
For Heat, Bam Adebayo put in a strong showing as he picked up 26 points but had little help from his team-mates.
“They were in a pretty good rhythm, especially in that first half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Nuggets.
“Our disposition, the efforts, the resolve in the second half was much better. But when you get to this level, it has to be complete games.” (BBC Sport)